noun tele·mar·ket·ing ˌte-lə-ˈmär-kə-tiŋ
Simple Definition of Telemarketing: The activity or job of selling goods or services by calling people on the telephone.
First Known Telemarketing Definition: 1980
The above is a nearly 40-year-old definition of telemarketing by Webster’s, which in my opinion, is only partially correct. Telemarketing today is the activity or job of creating relationships and engaging others to see if the goods or services that your firm offers are a solution for them to buy. The definition of a telemarketer has taken on a whole new meaning over the years, not to mention it involves a more sophisticated job description along with responsibilities that come with the job. You see, people today buy from you not just because you called them, but because they’re ready to buy. The days of selling to people like it was 1980 are long gone.
How to Be a Great Telemarketer in 2020
In most cases, telemarketers never meet their clients face-to-face, therefore having good telemarketing skills is a critical hallmark of a great telemarketer. Follow these suggestions on how to become the best telemarketer in 2020 and beyond:
- Learn as much as you can about what you are offering or selling. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of what the product or service is, how it works, and how it may be beneficial to possible clients. Furthermore, you should have authentic self-assurance in what you are offering, and in its value to the people you will be prospecting.
- Learn about the firm for whom you’re working. A good telemarketer not only sells a product or service but also sells the firm. You should be able to articulate to potential clients why they should pick you over your competition. Study the firm’s history, attitude, customer reviews, recommendations and industry evaluations in order to be able to provide prospects with a complete and favorable image the person with whom they are speaking.
- Be sure to understand the sales process. Once you convince a customer to invest in what you are offering, good telemarketing skills require that you are able to explain the sales process from start to finish. This may include asking for the order such as closing paperwork, billing, shipping, refund/return policies, customer support and any necessary customer follow-up. In certain cases, a telemarketer is the first one on the front line to engage with a brand-new potential client and not the one selling. This means it’s even more important for this person to know and understand the selling process so that when a salesperson takes over calling on the potential client they’re both in alignment regarding this part of the sales cycle.
- Be ready to represent the business you are calling for. You should have the business name, mailing address, phone number(s), email address, website, your manager’s relevant information (especially if you work in a call center) and any other pertinent contact information that your customers may ask for over the telephone. If you’re a leader in your industry, have association endorsements ready to tout or current clients that are branded and have notoriety within the industry that you’re calling into.
- Rehearse your script. All the movies that won academy awards had one thing in common a great script. You cannot come off and sound rehearsed. Scripts are necessary in telemarketing whether it’s for one salesperson or an entire call center, but it’s important to convey a script without sounding like you are reading. Take a few slow breaths and relax before making your calls, close your eyes then focus on the message behind what you are about to say rather than the words themselves. This will help you shape your tone and sound genuine and sincere while speaking. Read the script loudly into a mirror at your desk until you are comfortable that you can convey it without any stumbling.
- Exude confidence. A professional telemarketer communicates with a tone of authority and expertise that helps put prospects and customers at ease. If you are sufficiently prepared, then you should be able to hold a great conversation about the reason for your call and your firm with confidence.
- Improve your communication skills. Speak in a conversational and succinct style, but don’t interrupt. Memorize your script and deliver it slow, authoritatively and clearly enough that prospects or customers can easily understand you. Do not mutter. You’re not interrogating a criminal so don’t sound like Joe Friday; ask open-ended questions and probe for what their needs are. If you’re doing 20% of the talking, then you’ll be able to understand if your firm can help this potential client. The prospects should be doing 80% of the talking during your initial discovery call.
- Be understanding of the people you are calling. Remember you’re an intrusion to them until they know what you have may be of help. Always introduce yourself and explain the reason for your call as soon as possible and upfront during the conversation. Always be listening and take notes to responses as you go through your questions and conversation.
- Find the right balance between saying too much and not saying enough. Just a gentle reminder not having the ability to see facial expressions and read body language isn’t on your side. The dead air syndrome during a phone conversation can be painful. On the other hand, one can scare a potential customer away by saying too much, too fast. Don’t fall into that presentation mode about touting everything you do and have since you have no idea what the prospects’ needs are. Don’t misunderstand it’s okay to answer prospects questions and share what your firm does. But turn the questioning around quickly once they’re satisfied with what it is they might ask and attempt to ask them what is they want to accomplish so you can present the appropriate products and services to them. And whatever you do try to omit “ums” and “ahs” during the conversation at all costs.
- Be positive. Has anyone ever shared with you that life is a lot easier if you maintain a positive mental attitude. Remember that some (or many) of the people you call are not expecting your call. Moreover, they may not be interested to speak with you. It’s common for any telemarketer to be rejected by several potential customers before reaching a party that’s interested to just listen. Learn not to take rejection personally, but rather handle it as an opportunity to develop your telemarketing skills. I always like to compare the “no’s” to the “yes’s”. And we all will agree that we hear “no” more than “yes”. And for every “no” you get you’re that much closer to a “yes”.
- Be strong. Some say telemarketing is a numbers game, and it takes time and persistence to develop good telemarketing skills. To a point that’s correct. Commit to making a certain number of dials each hour, day and month. See those calls through and be accountable of your talk time and breaks. Don’t beat yourself up for poor performance. Calling different types and sizes of businesses can yield different results. Know your industry metrics and be realistic when setting goals that involve leads, appointments and sales.
- Know when to move on. Most telemarketers have been in a position when it is time to move on to the next call, but may have overstayed their welcome. Tenacity is a good quality to have in certain situations, but too much of it will come off unprofessional. If a prospect is not interested in what you have to offer after attempting to overcome the objection, then politely end the call and move on to the next one.
- Exude empathy. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another human being is experiencing, to have the capacity to place oneself in another person’s position. In the world of sales and telemarketing, you may want to go into the “feel, felt found” mode. “I understand how you feel and most of my successful clients felt the same way that you do before they started working with us. They found dealing with our firm has saved them both time and money.”
- Show leadership. Leadership skills are very important with any telemarketing work. People look for leaders, and you would do well to study successful leaders and come to terms with how they do lead. It’s about knowing what you want and, knowing how to get there.
- Perseverance is key. Too many telemarketers fail before they even try. If you give up before you begin, then you simply have robbed yourself of a possible success story. Once again, the number of names, appointments, and sales will always vary between products and types of business and geography, but every campaign you abandon is definitely one that will fail.
- Establish quality relationships. Use your heart when you make telemarketing calls. The heart is a natural relationship builder; the heart cares supports and fosters growth.
This article was written by Jeff Neilson, the co-founder of Neilson Marketing Services. He has managed telemarketing campaigns for over 25 years.